Auburn’s War Eagle Battalion celebrating 100 years of national Army ROTC

Published: March 29, 2016
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Auburn University's Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, the War Eagle Battalion, will join in celebrating the centennial anniversary of the U.S. Army ROTC, which began in 1916 with President Woodrow Wilson's signing of the National Defense Act of 1916.

The national Army ROTC produces more officers than any other organization in the U.S. military, having commissioned more than 600,000 second lieutenants. Auburn has produced more than 8,000 Army commissioned officers.

Auburn cadets have planned and made arrangements for free, public events as a part of their training this spring to mark the occasion. 

"As aspiring officers, students are placed in charge of events to demonstrate their ability to plan, organize, coordinate and resource for training and real world operations," said Maj. Roshun Steele, professor of military science and commander for the Army ROTC program at Auburn. "My goal is for them to gain knowledge and have confidence in their leadership abilities. "

  • The events begin April 1 with the Cadet Military Ball at the Opelika Event Center. Retired Maj. Gen. Luis R. Visot, former chief of staff of the U.S. Army Reserves, will be the guest speaker. Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner and the program following from 6:30-8 p.m.
  • During the A-Day spring football game April 9, the centennial senior class will be honored on the field on college football's largest video board.
  • A "Bring Your Professor 5K Run" will be held April 10 at the Nichols Center from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Auburn's track and field head coach Ralph Spry will be the guest speaker. Registration is online (https://runsignup.com/Race/AL/AuburnUniversity/ArmyROTC5k). Following the run, the War Eagle Battalion will present an engraved brick honoring 100 years of Army ROTC. The brick will be placed outside the Nichols Center.
  • The Auburn University baseball team will host a military appreciation game April 29 at Plainsman Park. In honor of Army ROTC's anniversary, a representative from the War Eagle Battalion will join Auburn alumnus Brig. Gen. William S. Lee to throw out the first pitch.
  • The Centennial Class Commissioning Ceremony will be held May 7 from 7:30-9 a.m. at Langdon Hall. Auburn alumnus Maj. Gen. Darsie D. Rogers will be the guest speaker. The cadets will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U. S. Army.
  • Auburn ROTC historical archives will be on display on the ground floor of Ralph B. Draughon Library throughout the remainder of the semester.
  • Five high school seniors in the Auburn area recently competed in a Junior ROTC scholarship competition. One student was selected to receive a three-year active duty scholarship.

"I'm so excited about all of these events," said Steele. "I tell the cadets that it is their program and that they want to leave their legacy behind."

While Army ROTC's inception was in 1916, civilian colleges and universities have offered military training programs since 1819. Auburn University began its military training program the year the university was founded, 1856. At the time, all males attending Auburn had to participate in the program for at least two years. Students who completed the four-year program were not guaranteed commission upon graduation.

Today, the War Eagle Battalion is a four-year program. While some students begin the program with a four-year ROTC scholarship, others take ROTC courses their freshman and sophomore years and then can choose to join the program if they meet all of the qualifications. After completing the program, cadets graduate as second lieutenants prepared to serve at least eight years in the National Guard, Army Reserves or on active duty.

More information about the events is available by contacting Steele at ras0070@auburn.edu or visit the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/auburnrotc). Information about Auburn's military programs, including Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC, is available online (http://www.auburn.edu/scholarship/undergraduate/rotc-scholarships.html).